Monday, November 2, 2009

When the frost is on the pumpkin...

It’s time for festive Halloween cupcakes! I love Halloween. Like I love, love, love Halloween. I start thinking up costumes around August 1st and usually have them planned out, if not made, by the end of September. This year I started Halloween off around the Bunker Hill Monument to watch the parade at a little Halloween soiree. I knew I was going to bring cupcakes but didn’t know what kind to bring. Chocolate and vanilla are just so typical – I wanted something a little more fun.

Fun was the key word for these bad Larrys. I decided to make some home made ‘Funfetti’ cuppies. What a way to spice up a plain Jane vanilla cupcake right? Exactly. These tasty treats were topped off with purple vanilla frosting and some fun chocolate ‘accessories’ I made by piping fun designs with melted milk chocolate onto wax paper and popping into the fridge. Fun fact: Wait for the cupcakes to cool before adding the chocolate embellishments they melt pretty quickly if not! Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Turns out that hot buttered rum and apple spice is everything nice!

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it but the leaves are starting to turn brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow!! As I’ve mentioned before, this is my favorite time of the year. I love the smell in the air, the apple picking and the apple cider donuts! I picked up some apples the other day looking for some inspiration. Sadly they came from a big chain grocery store and not from a local area farm but they did the job. I was thinking of all things apples and what different types of goodness that could go with them. I thought back to last fall when my friends and I spiked some apple cider with rum during a Patriot’s game. Now, how the heck could I incorporate hot buttery rum cider into a cupcake? In the frosting of course!!

Now, the cupcakes I’ll admit were a little weird. They tasted delish but the consistency was much more muffin like and next time I make these I’m going to make sure to slice and dice the apples much finer. I personally liked the chunky apples but I can see how some might not. Now, the thing that put these cupcakes over the edge was the amazing icing. The hot buttery rum frosting was the most superbtacular, yes I’m making up words now, frosting I have ever made. It was heavenly. It was beyond heavenly really, it was to DIE for, smooth and creamy and light as air. I was stoked! I finally mastered the perfect frosting!! Throw another success up on the board for this girl, these cupcakes are the nuts. Actually come to think of it, they might be yummy with some chopped walnuts!! Here’s how you can make these tasty treats for yourself.

Apple spice cupcakes with hot buttered rum icing:

2 eggs ¾ cups of milk
1/3 cup butter, melted 1 tsp dark rum
1 tsp vanilla 2 ¼ cups flour
¼ cups sugar ¼ cups brown sugar
2 granny smith apples, 1 tbsp baking powder
finely chopped 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat eggs, milk, melted butter, rum and vanilla in a bowl or, if you’ve got enough measuring utensils, beat it in a measuring cup and save yourself some dish washing!

In a new, large bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder and cinnamon. Once this is combined, add your egg and flour mix. Once all mixed together, add in chopped apples. The mixture is going to be very thick and doughy looking. I think this is why the cupcakes ended up ‘muffiny’. It’s okay; you’re frosting them so they’re cupcakes, not muffins.

Bake at 350 for 18 – 20 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean.

Hot buttery rum icing:

½ cup of shortening ½ cup of room temp butter
Box of confex sugar 2 oz dark rum

Whip together shortening and butter, add confectioners sugar slowly. When at an icing consistency blend in dark rum.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Well, hello there September!

Hello again friends and hello there September. Here we are, post Labor Day. Kids are back to school, the grapes on my grapevine are starting to turn and the weather is getting a little more brisk. I like it because I can actually sit on the back porch with my laptop without drowning in sweat and getting a nice red sunburn (thanks a ton Ireland for this burn prone skin) So here I am, sitting and reminiscing about summer and all the great cupcakes I’ve made and all the great things that have happened. One of the best things by far happened right at the tail end of the season.

My friend Alex and I attended a Yelp event at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. After this event we were headed over to the Hong Kong for their after party and a couple Scorpion Bowls. Along the way we met a nice guy who offered to take our picture on the event’s ‘red carpet’. He was new to town and needed directions to the closest T stop. We were headed in that direction so we walked over with him. We introduced ourselves to Be and during some small talk along the way he mentioned that he worked for the website How2Heroes and explained to us how they produce and post videos of chefs instructing people how to cook. “Get the hell out of town! (I’ve got such a way with words) I make cupcakes. I even have blog about them!” He had me email my blog to him so he could take a peek. That was that, he got on the T and I secretly thought, I’m not going to hear back but wouldn’t it be cool if I did?!

A few days went by and I got an email from Be asking if I’d be interested in doing a video. I couldn’t believe it. I was super pumped. I was super nervous! Oh my goodness this is the coolest thing ever! A few days later I had a crew of 4 guys in my house, I was hooked up to a microphone and the cameras were rolling. I ended up making the old trusted Irish Carbomb cupcakes since they are such a crowd pleaser. All in all, the shoot went so well. As soon as it’s posted I’ll make sure to post the link and whatnot so you can see me in action!!

So, hopefully this fall will pack in even more excitement. Most people hate the upcoming fall but it’s one of my favorite and most inspiring seasons. I love the colors of the leaves, the hot mulled cider and the pumpkins. Mostly, I love all the cupcake ideas I’m coming up with!! There are so many flavor combinations…cider and spiced rum…pumpkin and spicy cinnamon…sweet potato and marshmallow…oh my gosh my mouth is watering. I better get off the porch and into the kitchen!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Peaches...Again?? I know, right?!

Okay so, I totally know what you’re thinking ‘enough with the peaches Blair’ and I swear this will be the last cupcake with peaches in them this summer. To be totally honest though, these were some damn good peachy cupcakes. What made them so good you ask? Prosecco. Yes folks, that’s right – prosecco that lovely, fragrant, zesty Italian sparkling wine. Since my mom and I recently jet-setted our way over to Italy last month prosecco has become my new drink of choice. I’d put it in my cheerios in the morning if it were socially acceptable. Unfortunately I’d then have to attend meetings and admit my prosecco problems and that’s just not my idea of fun.

Anyway, while in Italy, Mama Rachel and I sipped many a bellini with our wonderful Italian breakfasts full of fresh bread, salami and cheese. What’s a bellini you may be wondering? Well, it’s Italy’s delicious answer to the mimosa made with peach nectar instead of orange juice and prosecco instead of champagne. One of these bellini filled mornings I thought to myself – wouldn’t this be an amazing cupcake?! (Lets face it, that’s where my mind always goes now – straight to the cupcake) So, when we got back to the good ol’ USofA, that’s just what I did, I made me some Bellissima Bellini Cupcakes and boy were they delicioso!! Here’s how I did it…
1 1/2 cups flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt 1 cup sugar
1/2 cups veggie oil 2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1/3 cups Prossecco
1/3 cup milk 1 peach - diced FINELY
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Some may want to sift them, I never do. Some say lazy, I say streamlined...
In a large bowl whisk up your sugar, oil and eggs and vanilla until they are smooth. Add the dry ingredients alternating them with the wet ones. Do 1/3 of the dry, add the milk, another 1/3 of the dry, then the Prosecco (oooh look at it fizz!!!) and then the rest of your dry. The batter is going to be very bubbly and liquidy. You're probably going to think you did something wrong, that's what I thought at least. You didn't do anything wrong. The batter is just weird.
Fill each cupcake well up about three quarters of the way up and pop those suckers in the oven for about 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Prosecco icing
3-4 cups confectioners suugar
1 stick of butter
Blend room temp butter with confectioners sugar (a little at a time!! I've said it before - if you add too much confex you'll end up wearing it!!!) Add some prosecco and pour yourself a glass while you're at it. You're going to love it. I didn't measure how much I used probably a glass full. You're just going to have to add more sugar to thicken it up. I'm sorry I can't tell you exact quantities - some things you're just going to have to figure out - Mama cupcake can't teach you everything people. I have faith in you don't worry...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Peaches, Pearls and Pansies...Oh My!!

One of my favorite summer treats has to be a succulent ripe peach. I got hooked on the treat one summer trip to visit some family in Virginia. My grandmother’s family is all from the South, some residing in Georgia. This trip, they brought bushels of peaches with them from Georgia and from then on, I was hooked! (I’m also now hooked on Southern Sweetened Iced Tea but that’s a different cupcake for a different day)
Recently I went to the wonderful Davis Square Farmer’s market (Wednesdays from 12-6. Go and support your local farmers!!) I happened upon some un-pass-up able peaches. I b-lined it over to the Peach Man’s tent and bought about a dozen of the ripest, fuzziest, juiciest peaches.

Now, normally I do not admit to Mama Rachel being right but one thing she has always said and it remains to be true is “Blair, your eyes are bigger than your stomach” I always take too much and waste things. This time it was with peaches, a sassy single girl does NOT need a dozen peaches!! Crap I thought, peaches past the peak of perfection (say that five times fast) are just no good! What to do, what to do? Ding! The idea light bulb went off in my peach inspired brain. Why not experiment with some peachy cupcakes?

I used a basic white cake recipe from the Joy of Cooking and doctored it up a bit. The results were amazing; little bits of peach in every bite and a delectable peach nectar icing. The cupcakes were a big hit at my kickball team’s kick-off BBQ. I will admit that they were a bit dressy for such an affair topped with sparkly pearls and pinkish purple pansies. They may have been better suited for a bridal or baby shower but they were yummy nonetheless.

Peach Cupcakes

3 ½ cups sifted cake flour (or regular flour, unsifted)
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 sticks room temp butter
1 2/3 sugar
8 large egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar (ehh, use or don’t use)
1/3 cup of sugar
2 peaches finely chopped.

Preheat oven to 375 deg.

Before you start making the batter, peel and finely chop the peaches. Put them in a small bowl and sprinkle with about 2 tbs of Sugar. This masticates the peaches and produces a ton of peach nectar. (Okay time to stop giggling, these are real cooking terms here people!!) After making the cupcake batter, squeeze the juice out of the peaches and set nectar and peaches aside.

Now for the batter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and teaspoon. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine milk and vanilla. In a large bowl beat butter until it’s nice and creamy. Gradually add the sugar into the butter until mixture is light and fluffy (takes about 3-5 minutes). On a low (trust me, if you don’t you end up with a poof of flour all over the joint) setting add the flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the milk mixture which you should divide into 2 parts.

In a new large bowl (I know lots of bowls, right?!) beat the egg whites and cream of tartar. Side note: I like to freeze the yolks to save for later recipes. I’ve defrosted them and used them for a great hollandaise on Eggs Benny. After you have beaten the egg whites so that soft peaks form when you take the beaters out of the bowl add the 1/3 cup of sugar. You’ll then beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Use a spatula or spoon to fold the egg whites into the batter ¼ of batter at a time.
After combining egg whites and batter, fold in the chopped and masticated peaches. Distribute into your lined cupcake pans and bake at 375 for about 10 – 20 minutes. I’m giving you this big of a time frame because my landlord has blessed us with an oven that is older than life and baking times always vary for me. I tend to poke the cakes with a skewer every 5 minutes or so after the 10 minute mark. When the skewer comes out clean, they’re done.

Peachy white icing:

Combine in a bowl mixing again on low speed, 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar, 1 stick of room temperature butter, 4-6 tablespoons of peach nectar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. I also added a little of peach food coloring because I had it and I like when foods are the color of the flavor that they are supposed to be.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes? Yes, please!

I’m not a big chocolate fan. I don’t really like it at all as a matter of fact. If you put a plate of chocolate cake in front of me and a plate of extra sharp cheddar cheese – I’d go for the cheese in a heartbeat. When I was a kid, my Aunt used to buy a half vanilla, half chocolate cake for birthday parties so I could still eat cake while everyone else was devouring chocolate cake. Some say spoiled, I say loved…

Recently I and a few sassy ladies attended the Phantom Gourmet Phood Phest and something magical happened. Yes, we did get a picture with one of the Andelman brothers but this time, that's not what I'm talking about. I had my first bite of Red Velvet cake. I was amazed. I was mesmerized. I was hooked! I went back for a few more pieces – they were tiny so it’s kind of okay that I ate about five of them. From there on out, I had a new mission in life. The cake was good enough but red velvet cupcakes?! Yes! They would be even better – just about everything is better in cupcake form isn’t it?!

I had only made one other cupcake without a box and was really amped to keep it up. I did some research since I had absolutely no idea how to bake such a savory treat and found a great recipe to follow on the Coconut & Lime website. It turned out delish and I ended up with these lovely little nuggets of southern luvin. (recipe to follow)


2 C all purpose flour
1 ½ C Sugar
1 C Buttermilk (no one really has this lying around 1 cup milk plus 1 tbs lemon or vinegar makes buttermilk. Yes it is a little gross but get over it, it makes delish cupcakes)
1 stick of softened butter
1/3 C baking Cocoa
2 eggs
2 tbs red food coloring
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and combine well. In a mixing cup combine buttermilk and red food coloring. In another large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time adding some colored buttermilk in between. Stir in baking soda and vinegar.* Pour into 24 lined cupcake tins. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean.

*Since I’ve got a touch of the ADD and my kitchen doesn’t lend itself to have a cook book near the chef while baking, I forgot to add the baking soda and the vinegar. I’m pretty sure that’s why my cupcakes weren’t fluffy and spongy. All I can remember is combining vinegar and baking soda as a kid in a papier mache (ok paper mache – for those non French speaking friends) volcano to make it erupt. I don’t think the cupcakes would have erupted in the oven but they might have baked up lighter and fluffier instead of dense little cakes. They tasted great, however they were a little hockey puck-ish.

I decided to “ice” with fondant. I've always been somewhat drawn to cakes done in Fondant and it does give a great smooth look. I decided because of the midgetness of the dense cupcakes to wrap them in the fondant upside to make little teacakes. I loved the look however the taste was a bit weird. Give me good ol’ butter cream icing any day!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Caution: Irish car bombs mixed with cupcakes makes for a taste EXPLOSION!

Hello again! As it may or may not be known to you, my friends and I like to imbibe in the occasional cocktail or two. All though we've mellowed out some, back in the day we were shot connoisseurs - you name it, we'd shoot it. The Irish Car Bomb was one that always intrigued me; I like Guinness, I like Jameson, I like Bailey's but the thought of chugging the three together nearly brought me to tears.

This past week I was propositioned by a friend of mine to make some cupcakes for her boyfriend's birthday. We thought of some themes and I set off on a journey to the world wide web. Not only did I find a great new blog I found a recipe for Irish car bomb cupcakes. What better way to celebrate a birthday than with some car bomb Cupcakes?!

This was my first experience with a cupcake mix sans box and my fears were all for nothing. The stout and chocolate cakes came out moist and delicious, the gooey Jameson and chocolate ganache was a dream, and the Bailey's flavored icing was to die for. All in all, the cupcakes came out amazing. Each bite was like a 21st birthday party in your mouth.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
Ganache Filling

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. *The original recipe didn't let you know that before piping the filling into the cupcakes you should let it firm up. I didn't do this, it turned into a gross looking mess on my kitchen floor when I carried the piping bag over to the cupcakes.
Baileys Frosting

3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 shot of Baileys
* I used two nips, one just didn't get the flavor I wanted

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. If the icing begins to clump up - don't worry once you add the Bailey's it will smooth back out. Once the icing is thick enough it is ready to be spread onto the cupcakes awaiting!Ice and decorate the cupcakes.